A deep freeze gripping Europe brought snow and icy conditions to cities as far away as Paris and Prague.
Closer to home, the cold spell may make it possible this week to skate on shallow sections of canals, rivers and ponds, according to Magdel Erasmus of Dutch weather site Buienradar.
After a significant temperature drop, the Netherlands often turns into an ice-skating paradise within a few hours. When waterways, especially the country’s iconic canals, freeze over, thousands of skating enthusiasts brave the cold and head out into nature. While an ice thickness of 7cm is generally considered safe for skating, many cannot wait and take to the ice before it is fully formed, despite government warnings.
The Dutch enthusiasm for skating dates back centuries, although its origins are rooted in practicality rather than recreation. In the Middle Ages, skates were mainly used as a means of transport by poorer people, historians say. Farmers, for instance, frequently brought their products to the market on skates. Nowadays, skating is a beloved winter pastime for many. Everyone from grandmothers to kids enjoy the tranquil process of gliding across frozen canals. However, it also evokes a sense of nostalgia for childhood days and simpler times in many Dutch people. The activity is so formative and central to Dutch identity that the government never prohibited ice skating during the COVID pandemic, recommending only that skaters keep a 1.5m distance and follow safety measures.
Erasmus says the beginning of the week is going to be colder than usual. The temperature on Monday and Tuesday will hover around the freezing point with night temperatures dropping even further. “Normally, maximums are around 7 degrees at this time of year,” she says.
Many will take the message as a signal to make the most of the brief spell of cold weather and experience everything the frozen country has to offer.
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